Could Boba Fett be the most well-read person in all of Star Wars? A forthcoming TV show starring Fett (Temuera Morrison) is the first live-action Star Wars series to present itself as a “book.” This might not seem weird unless you consider that The Book of Boba Fett could imply an infamously tight-lipped Bounty Hunter might emerge as the new representative of the conspicuously absent literary community of the faraway galaxy. If Boba Fett is revealed to be the most well-read person in Star Wars, then here’s the obvious next question: Is there a literal book of Boba Fett in The Book of Boba Fett? And if so, what’s in it, and who’s read it?
Prior to 2017, actual paper books in Star Wars canon were rare; mostly relegated to a diary kept by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Marvel comics, and the occasional Jedi scroll in the non-canon Tales of the Jedi series. The written word in Star Wars, of course, canonically exists in the form of the Aurebesh language, which adorns everything from flight suits to control panels. I still get emails from people who read the title of my 2015 book — Luke Skywalker Can’t Read — and assume I’ve never noticed the existence of Aurebesh. (I have. You didn’t read the essay!)
The existence of Aurebesh doesn’t really prove that people have the kind of literacy in Star Wars that we enjoy in our own galaxy in the same way having a credibility bookcase doesn’t prove you’re a big reader. The notion that most members of the interplanetary populace of Star Wars are well-read is highly dubious. Even high-level military officials like Admiral Motti (presumably this guy went to college) believe that the Jedi Order is an “ancient” religion, only 19 years after they were systematically murdered. Clearly, that dude hasn’t cracked the Star Wars equivalent of Howard Zinn.
In The Mandalorian Chapter 12, “The Siege,” we get a glimpse of a classroom taught by a protocol droid in which every single child has what appears to be the Star Wars version of an iPad — and there’s not a single book or piece of paper in sight. Keep in mind, Nevarro is a poor planet, and in their brand-new school, every single kid has a new iPad. Physical books are so ancient and rare in the “present” of the faraway galaxy that even a poorly-funded school uses e-learning. Over and over again, Star Wars canon establishes the fact that by the timeframe of the three film trilogies, contemporary physical books and printed writing just don’t exist.
The in-canon Claudia Gray Star Wars novel Bloodline features an internal monologue from Leia that further confirms writing’s rarity in the Galaxy: "Virtually nobody wrote any longer, it had been years since Leia had seen actual words handwritten in ink on anything but historical documents."
In 2017, Rian Johnson said the inclusion of crusty books in The Last Jedi (a first for a live-action Star Wars) was because he needed “something that felt old and that felt ancient and that felt very earthy and of the island.” Old books exist in the Star Wars universe, but the film also implies that your average First Order officer or Broom Kid on Canto Bight is still getting their news via the oral tradition, not from a newspaper, or certainly not from a history book. In other words, the story of Luke’s ghost fighting Kylo Ren on Crait didn’t get passed around the galaxy because somebody decided to write it down. Johnson described this information moving like a “game of telephone.”
Arguably, of all live-action Star Wars, the events of The Mandalorian gives us a broader and more diverse view of the citizens of the galaxy than any of the episodic films did before. We’re also invited to think that we’re watching a Star Wars book; each episode of Mando is a numbered “Chapter.” This convention helps make episodes of a Star Wars TV show seem different than the “Episodes” that number the films. But, it also seems to have led to the idea that the first Mandalorian spin-off series will also use “Chapters” to title each episode (i.e., The Book of Boba Fett may have a similar structure to The Mandalorian, at least superficially).
But, the bigger question is why go the extra parsec and actually call the new series a “Book?” In The Mandalorian, several characters often mentioned to Din Djarin that they have “read” the stories of the Mandalorians. Unlike the ancient Jedi texts in The Last Jedi, we never actually see these books (or eBooks). This is Star Wars’ favorite way of world-building — it implies the existence of ancient knowledge that everybody is vaguely aware of while simultaneously establishing the fact that all that information is full of holes or shrouded in myth. If people actually got a daily newspaper on any given Star Wars planet, the implication is that each news article would be half-eaten by a Mynock. Characters who tell Mando that they’ve read stories or legends about Mandalorians also, clearly, know more about Mandalorian culture than he does. Two random people, who Mando just happens to meet — Bo-Katan and Boba Fett — both know more about Mandalorian history; they fill Mando in on the Mandalorian Civil Wars and the cult he’s apparently a member of, the Children of the Watch. Apparently, the rules of “the Way” aren’t even written down anywhere, not even in a pamphlet. And if Mando has a Kindle version of “the Way,” he’s hiding it very well.
Mando’s ignorance about major galactic events — ranging from the basic existence of the Jedi to the habits of other Mandalorians — can partially be blamed on the fact he was raised in a cult. But, he also has been a bounty hunter for a decent number of years, meaning he’s interfaced with tons of people who could have loaned him a book or a magazine or texted him an article that might have filled him in on some of those information gaps. Mando is not a teenager, he’s a grown, functioning adult who has no idea that a group of “enemy sorcerers” was a major political power, somewhat recently. At least Admiral Motti was aware of the “ancient religion” of the Jedi. He’d read some propaganda (maybe.) Mando has read... nothing?
So, how does The Book of Boba Fett fit in? Well, Boba Fett was raised by Jango Fett, an old-school Mandalorian, who apparently broke with Mandalorian culture well before the events of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. This might be a leap, but Boba Fett seems way more informed about basic galactic history and current events than Mando. Is it possible this guy reads all the time? Is it even more possible that he writes, too?
If The Book of Boba Fett lives up to its name, the entire series could be framed as an actual memoir written by Fett himself. And if that’s the case, the Star Wars franchise can finally establish that someone in this galaxy actually likes to read. And, unlike Luke Skywalker, maybe Boba Fett keeps all of his books, and instead of, you know, deciding to burn them all just because he had a bad day.
The Book of Boba Fett will hit Disney+ in December 2021.